A new year symbolizes a fresh start for many, with a vast number of people seeking to improve their health and the number they see on the scale. We always support being mindful of your physical health and setting goals is a great way to focus your efforts to achieve your desired result, but what about setting goals to improve your mental health?
Didn’t see that one coming, did ya? A New Year’s post about improving your mental health instead of physical? Well, we like to keep it interesting here at Lotus Health.
The concern around mental health has especially grown through the pandemic as we’ve all been challenged with experiencing our mental health more intimately without going out, office life, and other social distractions. There’s no one way to approach improving one’s mental health; that all depends on the person. A good first step if you’re concerned about your mental state is to see a doctor, like Dr. Chan here at Lotus Health, or by finding a licensed therapist, you can read our post on that here.
If you’ve already taken the first step of seeking a doctor’s or a therapist’s advice and you’re looking for more ways to mindfully care for your mental health, we frequently post on the Lotus Blog with strategies and tips to help you on your way to better health.
Our strategy for today: HALT. Wait. We’re not telling you to stop reading, that’s just the name of the strategy.
What is HALT?
HALT was originally developed and implemented as a strategy for recovering addicts. Whether you’re struggling with addiction recovery or your mental health in general, HALT can serve as a great reminder to focus on self care.
HALT stands for Hunger, Anger, Lonely, Tired. By using HALT, you’re telling yourself to slow down, take a minute, to reassess your emotions and what’s going on in your body that may be contributing to your mood or impulses.
How does HALT work?
Let’s start with an example. Maybe you’ve been in a weird place emotionally for a few days and you’re progressively getting more upset, depressed, or frustrated, over your situation. In this scenario, you’re going to initiate HALT by pressing pause on your current emotions. Allow yourself to step back in your mind and look at the situation objectively and walk through the steps of HALT.
Step 1: Hunger
Am I hungry? It seems pretty obvious to state that our bodies run on food, but sometimes due to our emotions we neglect this seemingly obvious part of self care. Not eating can cause you to not only feel physically weak, but can make you feel foggy, dizzy, confused, angry (we all know what being hangry feels like, right?), or even depressed. I know I’ve cried a few times from being overly hungry. So in the midst of an emotional storm, first ask yourself if you’ve properly fueled your body to handle the situation and your emotions.
Step 2: Anger
Am I angry? Anger can often be the root cause of a variety of emotions. Anger can make you act out in ways that don’t seem inherently, well, angry. Anger can push people to become impulsive, depressed, emotional, irritable, or withdrawn. As you practice HALT, try to walk through your emotions and determine if anything in your life may be serving as catalyst for anger, then reassessing the situation or seeking resolution where you can.
Step 3: Lonely
Am I lonely? When your mental health takes a downturn, it’s very common that we subconsciously, or even consciously, isolate ourselves. Naturally, when you cut yourself off from positive interactions in your life, it tends to add to any emotional distress you may be experiencing. So if you’re at the point where you’ve ruled out the other elements of HALT, ask yourself, “When was the last time I saw my friend/sibling/parent/favorite coworker/etc?”, “I’ve been spending a lot of time alone, is that contributing to my negative emotions?” If you find that loneliness is impacting your emotional health, then try to find a way to alleviate that pain point from the equation.
Step 4: Tired
Much like hunger, proper rest plays a huge role in the way we operate physically and emotionally. If you’ve been skipping out on getting adequate sleep, take a nap. Go to bed early. Allow your body and mind to reset to rule out tiredness as a factor in your mental state. If you’re struggling with insomnia or to fall/stay asleep, reach out to your doctor or set up an appointment here at Lotus Health to learn more about sleep solutions.
Now that you’ve learned HALT, you have another tool in your toolbox to better manage your mental health. Remember, this is not a suggested replacement to consulting a doctor/mental health specialist, but as an additional resource in improving your mental health.
Go on into the New Year with better emotional and mental health. New Year’s resolutions aren’t just about looking good on the outside, but making sure you’re feeling good on the inside too. If you feel like you need a little extra, schedule a time to see Dr. Chan at Lotus Health and begin receiving personalized healthcare tailored to your unique needs.